I intended to write about springtime in Kansas City today—about how the hum of my space heater had been replaced by the roar of the air conditioning unit, how the tulips are on fire and the whole city seems to be joining us on our evening walks—but it snowed yesterday. Unwelcome snow flakes covered our green grass in a patchy white blanket during a most unusual May flurry. I’m glad to report that it has melted already. What in the world?
It was warm the weekend before last when I walked into my favorite little health food store in Kansas City and found the first of the local cherry tomatoes. Juicy, sweet and ripe through the center, cherry tomatoes are reliably tasty. They’re my tomatoes of choice until those gorgeous heirloom tomatoes appear at the market in mid-summer. Anyway, I went back to the store for more local tomatoes after I dreamed up this recipe, but I couldn’t find any more of them. Maybe I spoke too soon on the tomatoes, too.
The recipe I have today is a combination of two food concepts I encountered last week in Oklahoma. Oklahoma isn’t exactly renowned for cutting edge culinary concepts, but then again, I don’t aspire to be a cutting edge chef. Inspiration is everywhere. Both roasted cherry tomatoes and omelets stuffed with smashed tortilla chips were new to me, and I can now say I’m a fan of both. I found the sweet and juicy, whole roasted cherry tomatoes in Nebu‘s salad bar line when my dad took me to lunch at the new Devon tower. They make this fresh homemade salsa taste extraordinary.
Later in the week, I ordered an omelet stuffed with tortilla chips out of curiosity when I went to brunch with friends at Juan del Fuego’s. A small handful of chips lend salty crunch and extra flavor to the interior of the omelet. It’s indulgent and lowbrow and wonderful. If you’re familiar with Tex-Mex migas (eggs scrambled with tortilla chips) or if you’ve ever tried huevos rancheros with crispy tortillas, you’re probably firing up your skillet already.
I’ve been working on my omelet-making technique all week and I can’t say I’ve perfected it yet, but I’ve typed up my method as best I can below. Don’t worry if your omelet doesn’t turn out perfectly; the worst that can happen is that you end up with scrambled eggs. Any combination of eggs, chips, salsa and cheese is going to be delicious. Serve with coffee, mimosas or spicy bloody marys in the morning or a Mexican beer with lime at dinner.
Oh and the internet (and Julia Child and Jacques Pépin) will tell you that you must use a non-stick skillet to make an omelet, but I’ve been making mine in my 8-inch cast iron skillet without trouble. For it to work, though, your cast iron skillet must be well-seasoned. Another tip: be sure to heat your skillet before adding anything to the pan to further prevent sticking. (Wondering why I’m so obsessed with my cast iron skillets? Several reasons. They’re non-toxic, non-stick and easy to clean once you get the hang of them. Regular non-stick skillets can release toxins when over-heated or scratched; cast iron pans do not. Cast iron pans are affordable and last forever.)
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/2 small white onion, chopped
- 1/3 cup loosely packed cilantro, chopped
- 1 jalapeño, deseeded and membranes removed, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small lime, juiced, or 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons milk or water
- pinch sea salt
- pinch black pepper
- hot sauce (Cholula recommended)
- 1 scant tablespoon butter
- 1/3 cup Jack cheese or other melty cheese, shredded
- 3 tablespoons black beans
- handful blue corn chips or tortilla chips, broken into small bite-sized pieces
- optional garnishes: sliced avocado, sour cream, hot sauce, etc.
- Make the salsa: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a small, rimmed baking pan with parchment paper for easy clean-up. Toss the cherry tomatoes with 1/2 teaspoon olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt on the baking pan. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until the tomatoes are juicy and collapsing on themselves.
- In a bowl, mix together the chopped onion, cilantro, jalapeño, garlic, lime juice or vinegar and sea salt. Once the tomatoes have cooled enough to handle, use a serrated knife to chop them. Pull off the tomato skins as you go for a smoother salsa. Mix the tomatoes into the mixture. Taste and add more salt or lime juice if necessary.
- Make the omelet: In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk or water, sea salt, black pepper and a few dashes of hot sauce. You want the egg mixture to be super scrambled. Heat an 8-inch, well-seasoned cast iron skillet or non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Once the pan is hot enough that a drop of water sizzles on contact, toss in the pat of butter and swirl the pan to coat. Pour in the egg mixture and let it set for about ten seconds. Use a heat-safe spatula to gently scoot the set eggs toward the middle of the pan, then tilt the pan so runny eggs take their place. Repeat this process until there is hardly any runny eggs to scoot around. Use your spatula to gently release the underside of the omelet from the pan. Tilt the pan a little forward and back to make sure it's not stuck anywhere, then use a quick flick of the wrist to flip the omelet back into the pan. Let it set for a few seconds, then scoot it off the pan onto a plate.
- Immediately top 1/2 of the warm omelet with a sprinkle of cheese, followed by black beans, smashed tortilla chips, and more cheese, then gently fold the other half on top. Spoon a generous amount of salsa (warm the salsa first if necessary) over the middle of the omelet as shown. Serve immediately.
P.s. I have more Cinco de Mayo recipe ideas over here!